Enterprise Agreements (EAs), sometimes known as Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs), are essential to ensuring fair outcomes for workers in Australia, particularly tech workers.


While modern industry awards and the National Employment Standards (NES) are in place to standardise basic employment conditions, they do not cover the more nuanced, workplace-specific provisions that protect and enhance employee rights.

This is where an EA comes in. It is a powerful tool for employees to improve their rights, conditions, and pay.

                          

Reason #1 | EAs democratise workplace conditions

Every workplace operates differently, and the workers are most attuned to these nuances. So, they should have a say in what conditions will help them perform their best.

The decision on what clauses are included in an Enterprise Agreement (EA) occurs democratically. In collaboration with union officials, union members decide on a list of conditions they want to see introduced or retained in the workplace. This list is known as a Log of Claims. The claims are then negotiated with Fair Work and the employer.

Once the EA has been negotiated, it becomes legally binding. The only way these conditions can be changed or removed before the EA expires is through a vote by the employees that the EA covers.


Reason #2 | An EA protects existing benefits from being taken away without notice

You may not know this, but many of the benefits you enjoy at work could be changed or even abolished by your employer without notice. If they aren't covered by the National Employment Standards (NES), your industry award, or your individual contract, they are not protected, and therefore, it's up to your boss to offer them or take them away.

Here's a typical example that you may even have experienced:

Throughout and post-COVID, many employers shifted to a more flexible, hybrid working model, and employees found this to be better for their work-life balance.

Despite workers feeling better and being more productive when given flexibility, some employers decided this no longer suited them and enforced a return to office. Where workers have not negotiated EA work-from-home protections, they had no choice but to comply.

If you don't have an EA, the National Employment Standards (NES) are your only protection and currently, the NES says that flexible work is at your employer's discretion. This same rule applies to anything you enjoy in your workplace that isn't already outlined in your modern award or contract, such as allowances or free meals.


Reason #3 EAs can contain enhanced redundancy pay and protections

An EA can protect you while you are employed, but what happens if your employer decides they no longer need your role?

We all know the tech winter is real, with redundancies announced every few months. Workers deserve protection from the chill of being jobless in what is already a financially stressful time for many.

The National Employment Standards (NES) set out your minimum rights and compensation in redundancy. That's the good news; the not-so-good news is that the minimum is exactly what it sounds like—minimal! The better news is that the NES can be improved upon through the negotiation of an Enterprise Agreement (EA). In tech, where restructures are common, negotiating for better provisions around redundancies will give employees peace of mind during periods of uncertainty.

Some examples of improvements include:

  • Allowing for those who wish to leave to volunteer
  • Longer notice periods
  • More redeployment provisions to ensure those who want to maintain employment are considered for other relevant roles
  • A better payout if you are retrenched

These examples aren't pipe dreams, they are conditions that many workers covered by an EA have access to in workplaces across Australia. There's no reason why the tech sector shouldn't have them too!


Reason #4 | EAs contain guaranteed minimum pay rises and pay classifications

As your career progresses, so do your skills and knowledge, and so should your financial compensation.

A union-negotiated EA will include clauses on the frequency and percentage of pay increases to be given to employees for the duration of the agreement so your salary can follow the same growth trajectory as your value to your employer over time.

With guaranteed pay increases protected by an EA, no one gets left in the dark, as you're provided with stability and predictability regarding adjustments to your salary.

EAs can also provide clear classification structures with pay rates or bands, improving pay transparency throughout the workforce. Classification structures are a proven way to address the gender pay gap and ensure everyone is paid fairly, relative to their peers.


Reason #5 | Unfair Dismissal High Income Threshold does not apply if you are on an EA

No matter your income, it's possible that your employment could be dismissed (or fired) from work for some reason. However, it may surprise you to know that even if your dismissal was unfair, you might not be eligible for financial compensation if you aren't covered by an Enterprise Agreement (EA).

Regardless of the circumstances of your dismissal, if you earn $165,700 or more, you are not allowed to file for unfair dismissal under the current National Employment Standards (NES).

However, this changes with a union-negotiated Enterprise Agreement. All employees, regardless of income, who are covered by an EA, are awarded the same rights in the case of a suspected unfair dismissal.

We all know our jobs are about more than money, so why should this be any different when it comes to the untimely end of our careers? An EA ensures due process, giving employees a voice when they need it most.


Reason #6  EAs provide for better rights to consultation

While workplace change is inevitable, employees must be consulted and their opinions genuinely considered for it to be positive, productive and profitable.

It can be highly demoralising when poorly-considered changes made by management are implemented with a "take it or leave" mentality.

There is a solution! Workplaces covered by union-negotiated Enterprise Agreements (EAs) can contain enhanced consultation clauses, meaning affected workers must be consulted or face consequences in the Fair Work Commission.

Bonus Reason #7 | When workers have a say, everyone wins!

The first step to getting an Enterprise Agreement is ensuring you and your workmates are union members.

For Tech, Software, and IT workers, as well as Engineers, Scientists, Architects, Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, Translators, Interpreters, and other professionals, Professionals Australia is your union.

Click here to find your Division and join your union today!